Fall, 1996 - The South African Connection is Rejected

At the end of September 1996, the hunt for the murderer of Olof Palme took a new turn. The former chief of a covert South African police squad claimed an spy for the apartheid regime was involved in the assassination. Swedish detectives trying to unlock the still-unsolved mystery say the revelation could be a new lead in the ten year old hunt for Palme’s killer.

By Azariah Kiros

The revelations were made by the former chief of a covert South African police hit squad, Eugene de Kock. He was testifying in mitigation of a sentence before the judge who had convicted him of six murders and a series of other crimes. De Kock, a colonel in the apartheid-era police, told the court that a South African spy, Craig Williamson, had masterminded the assassination of the Swedish prime minister.

De Kock gave no indication what motive Williamson would have had for involvement in Palme’s murder but the Swedish leader was one of the most outspoken critics of aparhteid in the Western world and had close ties to Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress. And the allegations are being taken seriously by President Mandela’s government. Frene Ginwala, Speaker of the South African Parliament, says the accusations fit in well with Williamson’s background.

This is not the first time Craig Williamson’s name is surfacing in connection with the Palme murder inquiry. Swedish detectives working with the case were alerted about a South African connection earlier in the investigation. And Williamson’s name was mentioned. The apartheid-era master spy had managed to earn the confidence of Swedish and other Western officials responsible for running a secret fund to help victims of apartheid. Although he has not yet reacted to the latest accusations, three years ago he denied categorically any involvement in the murder of Olof Palme.

South African officials have promised to look into the de Kock allegations immediately. Mohammed Sheik of the South African security service told Swedish TV that his orgnisation will leave no stone unturned in its effort to investigate the matter throughly.  

The Swedish police sent investigators to South Africa, in order to follow-up the reports attributing the murder of Olof Palme to agents of the former apartheid regime. But when the returned to Sweden they dismissed the new allegations, and shortly afterwards moved for a new trial of Christer Pettersson.